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Smoke bomb aimed at skunks burns through house

Smoke bomb aimed at skunks burns through house

DETROIT — A Ferndale, Mich., man who used a smoke bomb to try to rid his crawlspace of skunks succeeded — but also nearly burned down his house

Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Rabid skunks can pose a greater risk to the public than rabid bats because they're ground-based animals more likely to interact with people and pets.

"We suggest citizens hire pest control professionals, however if one is an absolute die-hard do-it-yourselfer, please read and understand the directions and warning labels before applying an incendiary (smoke bomb) to your home or garage," Ferndale Fire Chief Kevin P. Sullivan said. 

Firefighters were called at 10:30 a.m. Monday to a home on the 300 block of West Webster after the renter who lived there used a smoke bomb in his crawl space to get rid of the skunks that lived there. When they arrived, flames were already in the crawlspace and on the first floor. 

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The man told fire authorities he waited 15 minutes after the fire started before calling 911. 

"Fire can double in size every 30 seconds at a slow rate. Doing basic math, he let the fire grow approximately 30 times the original size," Sullivan said.  

The fire spread up from the first floor through the walls to the attic. 

"The house was a complete loss, the occupant lost most (of) his possessions, the structure was severely damaged, fire burned through the floor and the roof, several access holes were cut to fully extinguish the fire," Sullivan said. 

One firefighter suffered a sprain. No one else was injured. 

Sullivan said no skunk carcasses were found at the scene. 

It's not the first time a metro Detroiter ended up setting a fire trying to get rid of a household pest. In 2015, a Detroit woman set her apartment and the entire building ablaze when she used rubbing alcohol to exterminate bed bugs.

A year later, a Detroit man was so overwhelmed by the bedbugs in his Midtown apartment that he sprayed himself with alcohol and then tried to light one of them on fire, badly burning himself in the ensuing flames.

Follow Ann Zaniewski on Twitter: @AnnZaniewski